Children’s Village Turns 20 Chamber Report

Since the doors at Children’s Village first opened 20 years ago, thousands of children with special needs and their families have been served in a welcoming place that unites multiple avenues of specialty care under one colorful roof. All with the goal of helping to ease the strain on families who are often overwhelmed, and serving those families right where they live – here in the Yakima Valley.

Children’s Village began as a vision among key community organizations and dedicated volunteers to meet the special health care needs of area children and their families. As a collaboration between Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic, Virginia Mason Memorial, Comprehensive Healthcare and The Memorial Foundation, the Village — thanks to the commitment of the Yakima Valley community — provides medical, dental, and behavioral services to children from birth to 18 with special health care needs such as autism and Down syndrome. There are peer support groups for parents and siblings, team sports, social events, and a spring prom for the kids and teens. There’s even family swim night hosted at the therapy pool.

Through its unique blend of services, the Village has helped thousands of children live fuller, more independent lives. In 2016, the Village served nearly 5,000 children with special needs, five times as many as were served in 1998, the first full year it was open.

The Village is a welcoming place, putting anxious children at ease as soon as they enter. Walls are bright and cheerful; preserved trees dot the hallways; the elevator resembles a mine shaft; the reception desk is inside a covered wagon; and a large meeting room is contained in a barn.

The ability to continue changing lives over the next 20 years and serve even more families in need is largely dependent on community support.  And that’s where The Memorial Foundation’s work to grow and enrich Children’s Village continues. The Village has never been sustained solely by reimbursement. It depends on grants and charitable donations from the community through The Memorial Foundation.

Despite these challenges, however, Children’s Village remains a unique facility not just for a community of Yakima’s size, but anywhere.  More than anything, it is a place for children to be children first. Everyone at Children’s Village believes the same thing: Help kids be the very best kids they can be.

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Join #GivingTuesday   

On Tuesday, November 28, The Memorial Foundation will be joining with others from around the world to celebrate #GivingTuesday. This is a global initiative dedicated to the celebration of generosity in the spirit of giving back.

Are you interested in joining as well? It’s easy!  Just find a way for your family, friends, business, or community to come together to support a cause that ignites your passion. Then, spread the word about what you have chosen to support. It could be through social media, e-mail, a blog, or an old-fashioned telephone call.

It is a perfect opportunity to begin or renew your support and affirm your belief in a healthy community. Make a gift towards helping to advance cancer care, children’s healthcare, home health or hospice services, or health education programs.

After making your gift, inspire others to “get out the give” by sharing your experience with #GivingTuesdayHealthyYakima on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other social media page!

Visit our #GivingTuesday page!

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Yakima’s Central Washington Cleft Palate Team

Cleft lip and/or palate causes difficulty with feedings, swallowing, and chronic ear infections or hearing loss, speech and language delay, and dental problems.

Supported by your gifts to The Memorial Foundation, the maxillofacial team at Children’s Village has a deep commitment to serve children in Yakima and nine surrounding counties with the diagnosis of cleft lip and/or palate. The team is comprised of more than 15 medical and dental professionals who volunteer to attend 6 team meetings throughout the year and evaluate approximately 70-90 children.  Team members come from Yakima, Wenatchee, Moses Lake and Kennewick. There are from 160 to 190 children in our program in any given year, with an average of 23 new referrals per year. A comprehensive treatment plan developed by the team provides guidance to primary care providers, medical and dental specialists, speech language pathologists, school personnel, and most importantly, families to assure interventions occur at the appropriate time in accordance with national standards of care.

The team coordinator, Cathy Buchanan, MSW, works closely with hospital staff to ensure that the family of a newborn with a cleft lip and/or palate receives timely and accurate information about the condition and resources available for comprehensive and timely plans of care.

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Boot Camp for New Dads

“Hold a baby, grab a blanket and take a seat!”  Babies seem pretty complicated to first time parents. Boot Camp for New Dads is a popular program where experienced dads bring in their babies to teach new dads and fathers-to-be about parenthood.   Men of all ages learn together what to expect, what to do, how to cope with sleep deprivation and a crying baby at the same time, and many other handy parenting skills.  It gives the guys a chance to ask questions, hold the baby and talk about dude stuff.

Jerry says Boot Camp for New Dads made all the difference as he started the most important job of his life. “I’m enjoying it so much because of these classes.” He says he has answers now, if Emma gets sick, or starts burping, or crying, “A lot of things just seem more normal — instead of panicking when she cries or screams.” He brought her to class to show the other dads he was just like them a few months ago, and now he’s holding his new baby girl without being afraid.

Thanks to generous support from our community, this class is only $30 to attend. To sign up for Boot Camp for New Dads, email class coordinator Teresa Posada at

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Help for Those Going Through Cancer Treatment

The North Star Lodge Patient Emergency Fund, funded by donors to The Memorial Foundation, provides assistance to patients on limited incomes who may be unable to pay for some of their basic needs when they are going through cancer treatment.

For those with a limited income, the out-of-pocket costs for each appointment and for cancer medications can mean they are unable to afford the basics of life – food, gas, power or phone contact.   Recently, cancer care was provided to a single gentleman who lives in a very remote area about 30 miles from North Star Lodge.  The cost of cancer care left him unable to pay for cell phone usage with his pre-paid cell phone.  He has limited family in the area and no close neighbors – so without cell phone access he was isolated, unable to call for help if needed, arrange transportation or speak to his cancer care team if he had questions or problems.

North Star Lodge social workers discovered how dire his situation was during their routine assessment.  They utilized the Patient Emergency Assistance Fund to provide him with pre-paid cell phone minutes so he could stay in touch with them, connect with family living far away from the Yakima area and call for help if he needed it.  This simple intervention and support of less than $75 helped to make the cancer journey for this patient more bearable.

The patient was overjoyed that we were able to provide this support to him during his treatment.  He was extremely grateful for this simple gift, made possible by the generous donors in this community.

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A Wish Becomes a Reality


Thank you for your support of home health and hospice programs through The Memorial Foundation.  This summer a patient shared with his hospice social worker that he would like to go fishing. One of his favorite hobbies was fishing on the Columbia River.  Within 48 hours of his request, his hospice team and staff from Advanced Life Systems donated their time and resources to make his wish a reality.  The team spent the day at Clear Lake fishing and barbecuing.  Although no one caught a fish that day, overall, our patient was happy to be able to spend one last time in the mountains, sitting by a lake, fishing and enjoying the beautiful view.

Your gifts honor and serve many in our community in so many ways. You can give at

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Community Investment

Because of ongoing community support, Children’s Village has become a part of the fabric of our community, contributing to its health and well-being, one child at a time.  The Village continues to be an innovative force in the Central Washington region for children with special needs and their families.

“Children’s Village does so much more than provide physical or speech therapy.  They reach out to the entire family and provide opportunities that go beyond the basic services.  The social opportunities are the best kind of therapy for our son, and he gets to do it in a safe, fun, accepting environment.”  –an appreciative parent

“Triumph…is a 9-year old who comes running down the hall, so excited to show the very first invitation he has ever received to a birthday party ‘LOOK!  I have a FRIEND!’” –- Laura Reed, Physical therapist

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Then and now

The Children’s Village story, and more importantly, the story of so many of the kids receiving service is not about a destination, but about their journey.  Our community has been a partner in that journey and the spectacular achievements that occur within the bricks and mortar of the Village.  Read further to learn about just two of the pretty fabulous kids who receive services at the Village.

Ashley Thorson

Attending therapy at Children’s Village was a family affair for the Thorsons.  Diagnosed with subcortal band heterotopia when she was two years old, Ashley has developmental delays and seizures.  After a year of travelling back and forth to Seattle Children’s Hospital, the Thorsons were referred to Children’s Village.  The whole family participated in her many speech therapies and Ashley progressed significantly.  Her mother says of Children’s Village, “Every time we walked in, we just felt like we were at home…everyone is there for you or intrinsically understands what you are going through”.

Today at 16 years old, Ashley loves attending school and the great friendships she has formed there.  For the past three years she has participated in the pageants for children with special needs in Prosser.  It is her moment to shine, to wear a beautiful dress and be on stage for all to see!

Edgar Cobain

At three months old, Edgar began having seizures.  Diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Edgar has significant trauma from the seizures.  At the Village, Edgar began physical and occupational therapy as well as speech therapy. He loves coming to the Village.  Edgar’s mom, Dora said, “It was the very best choice for him and our family and I loved to see how he changed every week. Edgar made progress with every visit to Children’s Village.”

Now a 6th grader in middle school, Edgar is doing great.  He is happy and joyful to be around and he loves music!  He comes to Children’s Village for speech therapy and equipment needs.  Edgar has made amazing progress and is now using an eye gaze device, which has enabled him to learn to use his eyes as his voice.


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Children’s Village…a place beyond expectations and a world of new possibilities. Celebrating 20 years!

Built through community commitment and support, Children’s Village is celebrating its 20 year anniversary.  “Children’s Village is a community promise that no child will be without the services they need when there is an issue, problem or delay.” – Anne Caffery, Memorial Foundation CEO, 1990 – 2016.  That promise was made 20 years ago and it still rings true today.

Opening in 1997, Children’s Village was one of the first innovative facilities in the country to combine a myriad of medical, educational, social, and family support services for children and their families.  Serving 5,000 children each year, the Village is on the cutting edge of services for children with neurodevelopmental challenges, and is a leader in care coordination and parent support.

Every day there is a new family who is learning to live their lives with a child who has special needs…and Children’s Village is there for them.

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